i’m reading “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kingsolver…it describes life in the appalachian mountains. it sounds just beautiful. it makes me ache to live someplace beautiful. its makes me realize what i’m missing here in fresno. beauty. nature. don’t get me wrong…there are wonderful, beautiful PEOPLE here (and a lot that aren’t, as with anywhere). but i’ve lived a lot of places. a LOT of places. and good people are everywhere in the world. sure, some places are friendlier than others, but in general i have found it to be true that there are good and kind people everywhere. so i don’t think there’s anything special here with that. there’s a LOT of good people here, i know. i know many many many of them. wonderful people. i’m not knocking the people. sadly, the ugly people (and i don’t mean outward appearance) tend to be louder and more visible. but i digress…
because the subject i wanted to write about was nature and being surrounded by the beauty of nature. if you’ve never lived in the middle of the woods. truly in the middle of the woods, not in a neighborhood with lots of trees. i’m talking wilderness. you don’t know what you’re missing.
i’ve lived in the woods at least twice that i can think of. i may be forgetting another home somewhere back in childhood…i don’t feel like thinking on it too much right now…but at least twice. first i can think of was in north carolina, we lived on a peninsula in the boonies on camp lejeune. only 8 houses in our neighborhood, all in one row, only about half had kids, and the end of the peninsula stuck out in the middle of water…ocean inlet, i think. it was salt water but didn’t have sandy beaches…only mud. but woods all around us. wildlife all around us. no sounds but nature at night, no traffic sounds. not many people. we lived there for a little over a year, i believe. 6th grade.
second time was just before i met adam. SCICON outdoor school. for one year i was truly in the woods. no radio or tv reception. not real great cell phone reception either, back then at least. no traffic save the few times the very few staff would be in and out of the campus. at the tip of sequoia national forest. wilderness. it was amazing.
so whenever i watch a tv show or movie about people living some place beautiful, or read about it…i feel an ache in my heart. because i know what it feels like to live someplace beautiful.
i used to literally feel dead inside when i visited fresno during my time i was living at SCICON. people thought i was just a silly hippie or something but honestly…being in a city, compared to being surrounded by nature. there’s a tangible difference. if you’ve only lived in city, you don’t know the feeling unless you go visit nature but you will quickly forget that feeling as soon as you go back to the city. but living IN nature for that year, i seriously felt the lack of vibrant energy whenever i would enter a city. even the little towns around SCICON. getting back to nature again, back home, i would feel the life come back.
fortunately or unfortunately i’ve lived in fresno so long now that i’ve adapted. i am not always tangibly aware of what i’m missing. but i feel it in my soul even when i am not thinking about it. and my heart feels the loss. i know that sounds dramatic. but i seriously ache for what i’m missing and what my children are missing. i always figured it would be different when i had kids…we’d move someplace that was beautiful. but the reality is that that would mean depriving my children of their extended family. and that, to me, is also a great sadness. something grew up without. i didn’t know any of my extended family as a child. so i don’t want that for my children so i tolerate living here. because all the family is here. but i’m unhappy. i can forget about it for months at a time sometimes, but everytime something happens like a tv show or movie or book, i ache. my heart aches to be back in that beauty. and for my children to know that beauty. not to visit nature, but to live among it. its a totally different thing.
so…where does this thinking lead me? my dad’s dream.
the entire time i was growing up i remember my dad having these dreams for retirement. one was to have a hot dog stand. i think he outgrew that one at some point because he stopped talking about it in recent decades…and the other was to own a retreat center.
i remember vividly all the conversations of my childhood with my dad of his vision of this retreat center. he even had it planned out in shape and structure. it would be a circular building with collapsable curtain type walls so that it could be turned into a huge meeting room. it would have a circular fireplace in the center. it would have a porch allllll the way around it with rocking chairs. it would have a loft area above where my parents would live.
he would talk about his vision of this place out in the country somewhere and my mom and him running this place for churches to hold retreats and such…and his eyes would just sparkle as he thought about it. and i felt it with him. i didn’t want it like he did. as a kid, i could really care less about that sort of thing. but i felt the energy it gave him. perhaps that’s why i’m the dreamer that i am to this day. my dad taught me so much just by being who he is. i really am grateful to him for that. he’s a wonderful person, my dad.
so now here we are, i’m an adult, he’s retired, i’m married, a homeowner, a mom…my dad doesn’t talk about his dream anymore. i am really sad about that. i think he figured he’d have attained it by now…but he’s never actually done anything to try to attain it. my dad is a dreamer, but making the dreams a reality–he’s not so experienced at.
my dad is 65. he’s not going to be with us forever. his dream has become my dream. now i fantasize about that retreat center in the woods somewhere near here. i dream about having a nature center on that same property and my husband and i having a house on the property and my brother having a house on the property and my parents having a house on the property (unless they really have their heart set on that loft). heck, if my inlaws want in on the deal, they could build houses on the property too! 🙂 lets make a big family commune!
so i read about people living in nature and i think…don’t forget about that dream. i need to make that dream a reality somehow, sometime in my dad’s lifetime. i NEED to get working on that dream because i’m dying inside from living in a concrete jungle (ok, a bit dramatic…i suppose i’ll survive. but i’m not happy.) and if there’s going to be time to develop it and for my dad to enjoy it before he’s gone, we need to be working on it NOW.
there’s some possible life changes for us coming up next year. i can’t talk about them yet. i don’t know if they’re going to happen. its too soon to talk about them. but i wonder if they happen, will it put us closer to being able to actively pursue my dream? and will my husband ever be supportive of this dream that is not his?
i love adam to death, i really do. he’s my soulmate. but we are opposites when it comes to this sort of thing. he’s not a dreamer. he’s a realist. and he couldn’t care less about living someplace pretty or ever leaving fresno. he’s content. but i’m not. what to do? hell if i know. we’ll make something work somehow. there has to be a compromise somewhere.
i don’t want to live so far removed from civilization that we have to travel quite a bit to see anyone. i don’t want that for my children. and i like the conveniences. i like being able to shop easily, whenever i want. but i think i’d live without that ok if i had to. its the socializing with other people that i won’t give up. so we’ll have to figure out a way to make it work that will not deprive my children of their playdates (and mine). i am not a recluse. i’m very social and so are my children. so i need to continue to look and think and see what comes our way.
i keep thinking that i will someday just stumble upon the perfect land. i will go to a site and there will be a retreat center or a summer camp or something like that for sale. and we will be able to figure out how to buy it somehow. i truly believe things happen for a reason and something will happen for us. i just don’t know how or when and its kind of maddening in the meantime. 🙂